Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Author Interview - Maxx Victor

Maxx Victor is an Australian author, musician, and secondary school science teacher, who has achieved award winning success with his short stories. A dedicated husband and proud father of two, he is also highly involved in his local arts community; performing in bands and producing and directing amateur films.

Maxx’s author journey began at a very young age. As a child with dyslexia, reading and writing were a constant struggle. To help, his father implemented the nightly routine of reading Titin and Asterix comics and Biggles books to Maxx and his brother; installing a lifelong passion for reading. Maxx’s mother also encouraged him to write stories (some which he has kept to this day).

During his secondary school years, Maxx unearthed a love for music. He regularly wrote poetry and song lyrics, as well as scripts for plays and short films. Something again sparked the curiosity for writing stories when Maxx’s children were toddlers. He frequently created impromptu, twisted fairy-tale bedtime stories, with his family members as the main characters. Maxx now writes teen fiction and hopes that his writing can inspire young people to be defined by their passions and talents, not by the things that the world will tell them are impairments.

Genre: Paranormal Romance and SciFi


Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what is it about?

My latest book is the second in my Anchor and the Moon series, titled Hearts and Diamonds. In this book we continue following the romance and adventures of the two main protagonists, Cinder and Black, two young people with paranormal abilities. In searching for their missing friend Dom, they inadvertently draw the interest of an ancient evil. On returning to their sleepy beach-town home, they unwittingly unleash this evil on their friends and family. All the books in the Anchor and the Moon series will be modern-day, shifter romance twists on popular fairy tales. Hearts and Diamonds is inspired by Snow White and Cinder and Black was a reimagining of Cinderella. The books feature fun, action, romance, and mystery. There is a lot of flirting and inuendo, but the spice levels are still appropriate for young and old alike.

Q2: How long does it take you to write a book? How long does each stage of the process usually take?

My first book, Cinder and Black, was my hobby and passion for more than a decade as I learned how to write. I published Cinder and Black in 2021

For Hearts and Diamonds, I set myself the challenge to write and publish a book in 12 months. With a great deal of extra time on my hands during the pandemic, I managed to successfully write, edit, and publish Hearts and Diamonds in a year. As much as I like the idea of publishing a book each year, I am not going to put that time constraint on the third book. Working to that timeline made my writing feel too much like a job rather than a passion.

Q3: What is your favourite type of character to write?

I like to write witty and cheeky characters. My character Dom is made up of the worst parts of my friends (or best depending on your point of view). Dom isn’t afraid to say all those things we wish we could say. I also like that under all his bravado, there is a heart of gold.

Q4: Do you mine your own life for ideas, settings and/or characters? If so, please give an example from your current book release where you have done this.

The main setting for my books is a small beach town called Heathcote. While Heathcote is a fictional town, it is very much inspired by the towns I spent my summer holidays in as a child. The banter between best friends Black and Dom is definitely inspired by my interactions with my brother and my close group of friends. The most horrible insults are always saved for your best mates.

In my “day-job”, I am a high school teacher. I get the opportunity to meet all kinds of crazy, weird, wonderful young people. Dom’s younger sister Torry is one of these great teenagers. She is definitely on the autism spectrum, which makes her all the more lovable and engaging. Many of my readers tell me that Torry is their favourite character.

Q5: What is something you wish you had known earlier on it your writing career?

I wish I had known that I needed to have a marketing plan and that I had started that long before the book was published. As I assume many writers do, I just thought I could write a great book, give it a great cover, put it on Amazon and sell thousands of copies each month. I have had over 1000 copies of Cinder and Black downloaded in one month, but I had to work very hard to make that happen.

Q6: What do you do when you find yourself in a bit of a writing rut? Is there any strategy you find works for you to help the words start flowing again? 

This happens to me often. I am very envious of people who can write 10,000 words a day, that is not me. Some days I struggle to write 10 words I am happy with.

The two things I find that work for me are re-setting my brain to be in a creative state, and removing myself from distractions. To re-set, I will take a walk through the bushland near my home (another influence for the town of Heathcote) and listen to music. I have created playlists that remind me of each of my characters. If I am trying to write a scene with Dom in it for example, I will listen to hard rock.

To remove myself from distractions I will take myself to a café. I’ll order a pot of tea and some cake and keep writing until the pot is empty. If I have time, I might then order lunch and keep working.

Q7: What is your favourite writing resource?

Punctuation has always been an issue for me, so I love ProWritingAid. I use ProWritingAid a few times in my writing process. At the end of the first draft, before I send my work to the editor and as a final check before publishing.

Q8: How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

My books are for a YA audience, but I have had people from primary school age to retirees tell me that they have enjoyed them.

I would say my ideal audience is anyone that likes a bit fun, action and mystery mixed with a good shifter romance.

Q9: You are writing book 3 of a series. What challenges have you encountered when writing the later books of a series, compared with writing the first book?

As I said earlier, the first book was my hobby for more than 10 years. I was fine with this book taking years because it was just something fun to do in my spare time. Now that I have that first book out, I just want to write and publish more books. My biggest challenge is not having enough time to get all the stories I have floating around my head down on the page.

Q10: What are you currently reading?

Fairy Tale by Stephen King and The Hub by Liv Evans

To find out more about Maxx Victor check out his linktr.ee or give him a follow on Instagram @maxxvictorbooks. Hearts and Diamonds, Book 2 of the Anchor and the Moon series is out now and is available as ebook and paperback. From the blurb:

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Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Author Interview - H. E. Bauman

H.E. Bauman is a fantasy author obsessed with all things magical. She’s the author of the Darkened Skies series and has a space fantasy series in the works. She’s been writing since she was a child, and some of her earliest stories were about witches, cats, and talking gryphons. When she’s not writing, you can find her playing tennis, immersed in a video game, or spending time with her family.

Genre: Fantasy


Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what is it about?

Under Darkened Skies is a new adult romantic fantasy novel about a young woman keeping a magical secret. Astrea Sovna, the main character, is a Lightbringer, a magical healer and empath. Her uncle is the court seer, and when she was very young, he had a vision of Astrea dying on the battlefield. They hid her magic from the emperor to spare her that fate.

Astrea works as a junior librarian, but the emperor personally selects her to work on a diplomatic project with his youngest son and her former best friend, Prince Varojin Auris. Forced to work together, they soon uncover a series of murders and shadowy people that seem to be connected to both Astrea’s magic and the emperor’s project. It’s up to Astrea, Varojin, and their friends to uncover those secrets for the security of the whole continent.

Q2: How long does it take you to write a book? How long does each stage of the process usually take?

Gosh, it’s honestly varied for every book I’ve written for the Darkened Skies series so far, which is four of the six I’ve planned. Under Darkened Skies, the first in the series, took me the longest since it was a new world and new characters, and there was a lot of discovery writing that had to happen to figure out those important elements.

Now that I’ve moved deeper into the series, I can get most of my novels from first draft to an almost final draft in ten to thirteen months. Each book goes through multiple rounds of review and revisions by me, my beta readers, and my editor. I couldn’t do it without their help!

Q3: What is your favourite type of character to write?

I’m sure most writers say this, but I love writing complex characters. People are complicated, and it’s really interesting and rewarding to watch your characters grow as they face those world-ending challenges often seen in fantasy.

One of the main things Astrea struggles with in Under Darkened Skies is finding her voice and sticking up for herself. There’s a lot of internal uncertainty as she begins to grow, and she continues that journey (and gains more confidence in herself) in the second book. It’s letting me dig into things like support systems, partnership (romantic or otherwise), letting go of old patterns, and finding a balance between individualism and community, so that’s been fun to write about and explore.

Q4: Do you mine your own life for ideas, settings and/or characters? If so, please give an example from your current book release where you have done this.

I definitely look to my own life for inspiration about all kinds of things for my books. Astrea Sovna, the main character in Under Darkened Skies, is a magical healer and empath. I’ve played video games my whole life, and I gravitate toward characters with healing powers. I thought it’d be a fun challenge to write about a healer—who has no battle experience—thrown into what becomes an epic mystery spanning the entire continent. That’s obviously a huge part of her character and impacts her deeply.

I get inspiration for setting from the real world, too. My husband and I went on our honeymoon in Paris, and the Luxembourg Gardens there were a great inspiration for the vibes I was trying to capture in certain locations in Under Darkened Skies. We spent a few hours there one afternoon just soaking up the sun and relaxing, and that helped me in picturing what city gardens and parks might look like in my fantasy world.

Q5: What is something you wish you had known earlier on in your writing career?

I’ve always known that writing is a messy process. Drafting, rewriting, and revising are full of ups and downs, and though that can be hard, I always know what to expect.

But as far as publishing goes, I feel like people don’t talk about how much of an emotional rollercoaster this process can be. There’s a lot of anxiety and excitement at the same time, especially once you hit those few months before publication. It’s such a privilege and honor to have readers diving into your world, but there are still so many other emotions going on behind the scenes. I knew it wouldn’t just be sunshine and rainbows, but I wish I’d known the process would have so many mixed emotions.

Q6: What do you do when you find yourself in a bit of a writing rut? Is there any strategy you find works for you to help the words start flowing again? 

There are a couple of ways I get myself out of a writing rut. The first one is to just push through, which is obviously easier said than done. But I find that if I just make myself sit there and write 500 words, even if they’re not the best words, that can sometimes help get me back on track. Moving my body is also helpful, so I’ll either go for a walk or play tennis. When I’m in a deep rut, I usually bounce between those two strategies for a few days until I find that writing flow again.

Q7: Your debut Fantasy novel, Under Darkened Skies, has 1920s vibes and tech. What sort of research did you need to do to ensure your story is accurate?

When I was first writing Under Darkened Skies, I knew I wanted to add 1920s flair to the story despite it being a completely made-up fantasy world. I thought it would be fun to have that level of technology and that it might open some interesting doors for me as the series continued. Several people, upon hearing “1920s,” have asked if it’s like The Great Gatsby with magic, or if there are gangsters and flappers, and I can answer both of those questions with a solid “no.”

As far as research, I’ve read up on all sorts of things: 1920s cars and their styles, airships (like zeppelins), telephones and radios, even espresso machines! I’ve also looked at 1920s fashion and architecture from various parts of the world, especially Mediterranean Europe, which was a large inspiration for the setting of Under Darkened Skies. But I gave myself more room to play with those elements since it is a fantasy world.

Q8: How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

Under Darkened Skies is a medium-paced romantic fantasy for new adult and adult readers. I’d say the book’s ideal reader would be someone who not only enjoys that kind of pacing, but readers who like magical fight scenes, mysteries, background politics, a wide supporting cast, and a main character who has to step into and learn about their power.

Q9: What authors or books inspire you the most?

This is such a hard question! There have been so many books and authors I’ve loved over the years. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke and Tamora Pierce’s books were early favorites; I still have my copies from when I was much younger! I loved the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo, and Lore by Alexandra Bracken was so fast paced and intense. Other fantasy authors I admire include Susan Dennard and Sabaa Tahir, just to name two of many.

Q10: What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal, and A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark is next on my list.

To find out more about H.E.Bauman check her out on https://hebauman.carrd.co/ or give her a follow in Instagram @hebauman.

Under Darkened Skies is now available! From the blurb:

A librarian with a secret. A prince looking for redemption. A dark discovery that will force them to confront their truths.

Astrea Sovna is destined to die. As a Lightbringer, she’s expected to serve the Helosian government as a battlefield healer; but when the court seer—Astrea’s uncle—has a vision of her being killed in the line of duty, he forbids her to reveal her powers.

Until now, Astrea has gone unnoticed as a junior librarian. But when she gets reassigned to a diplomatic project to strengthen ties between Helosia and one of its neighbors, she finds herself saddled with her past, in the form of returned war hero and her ex-best friend, Prince Varojin Auris.

Forced to work together, Astrea soon learns that although Varojin has been out of her life for years, he’s still the kind, patient friend she remembers. As they navigate old friendships and imperial politics, the pair discovers that the mysterious shadows stalking the city are leaving a trail of murder victims in their wake. And when Astrea becomes a target, a dear friend gets caught in the crossfire…

As Astrea and Varojin begin searching for answers, they realize there is much more to the emperor’s project than political niceties. If the shadows aren’t stopped, Astrea’s future—and the security of the entire continent—hangs in the balance.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Author Interview - Fay Bec

Fay Bec grew up in Massachusetts and moved around before making Florida her home. She is married and has four little ones she couldn’t live without. Fay wasn’t the biggest reader growing up, but she always wanted to become a writer. She finally took the chance in 2022 and put her heart into her debut novel. When she isn’t writing, she’s raising her babes, lost in a tv show, or drawing. She believes Villains do it better, and there is no convincing her otherwise. Keep an eye out because she is just getting started!

Genre: New Adult Dark Fantasy/Romance


Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what is it about?

Hidden Beneath the Embers is about a 25-year-old woman named Davyna, who was adopted at a young age and didn’t learn of it until she was a teenager when her “father” died. Her adoptive mother kept her from living her life, convincing her to sign a contract that held her captive. But that alone doesn’t stop our girl! She pushes the limits and starts learning who she is…and where she comes from. And along the way has to figure out who she can trust because it seems everyone has a hidden secret.

This book has some dark themes, so please check the trigger first on my website or Amazon. But we have Fae, supernatural creatures, curses, and more within the pages of this story.

Hidden Beneath the Embers is Book One in the Dark Curse series. Seeking Beyond the Flames (Book 2) is already in the works, and you don’t want to miss this one…a lot will happen!

Q2: You are currently re-releasing your debut novel, Hidden Beneath the Embers. What is the process involved in creating a second edition of your book? What kind of changes can your readers expect?

Oh, man. There was a lot to this process, and I won’t lie; I was surprised at almost every turn. Initially, I planned on updating the files, but I learned I couldn’t since more than 10% of the book had changed. I added over 27k words to the book and decided to redo the formatting, along with the cover. So, she got an entire makeover! The process of doing a second edition depends on what you are doing to the book. And since I did just about everything I could…it was a lot of work, but I don’t regret a second of it. I had a fantastic team working with me on this. And would like to personally thank Ali, Ashely, Alex, Annie, Susan, and Thea for all their help!

Something else to be aware of when it comes to second editions: you will have to unpublish the books (all formats) and buy new ISBNs to attach to the second edition before re-uploading them. If anyone has any questions about it I’d be happy to help share more behind the scenes and my experience.

But I am thrilled with the updates and feel there is way more depth now that was missing. Readers who read the first edition won’t miss much if they never go back. The plot stood the same, and I did that because I didn’t want it to become an entirely new book. But they will find some scenes were removed, new ones were added, and a brand new spicy bonus chapter! Overall, it’s just more detailed and has a better flow. My goal ultimately was to help the story shine brighter and help the reader connect more emotionally with Davyna and the other characters.

Q3: What is your favourite type of character to write?

Well, I love writing the main character overcoming trials and heartache. There is hope in their stories for the readers and myself. And I love that, but… The villains. I get to pull the dark parts of these characters to the surface, and they are completely unashamed of the evil they bring to the table. And it just makes the story. You can’t have a main character overcome anything without a badass villain trying to tear them down.

Q4: Do you mine your own life for ideas, settings and/or characters? If so, please give an example from your current book release where you have done this.

Yes, absolutely. Davyna got a lot of my trials and past woven into her character. And it was tough to write at times but also very freeing. There were also two other characters in my book that got a mix of someone in my life, which left me pretty broken, and they added to Davyna’s pain and doubts. I think we all pull from our own life in certain scenes when writing because it’s what we know. But when we are writing, we have the opportunity to rewrite the outcome. And that gave me some closure that I didn’t realize I still needed after all these years.

Q5: What is something you wish you had known earlier on it your writing career?

I could have made my first book more cost-effective. I put a lot of money into my first book, and even with all that, I still needed to come back and make adjustments. I’ve learned that it’s good to shop around, speak with different people, and form a budget for each book. Because if you plan on publishing more books, you can save or use your royalties on the next one. Another thing I think that I’ve learned is it takes time to learn your voice in writing. And after finishing the first draft of my second book (which is in editing now), I knew I wanted Hidden to reflect more of my voice and match what the series will develop into.

Q6: What do you do when you find yourself in a bit of a writing rut? Is there any strategy you find works for you to help the words start flowing again? 

So, if I find myself in a rut or I’m blocked I will typically walk away from it and try to clear my head. Or look at what I wrote and try to work out why I feel something is missing. I can’t remember the author who said this now, but I struggled with the plot when I was writing my second book. And a friend told me what she said. Which was along the lines of if you are blocked, it’s probably something in your plot that isn’t working. And honestly, I found that to be true. I was able to go back and look at the book and see it needed more chapters in the beginning, and one scene needed to be moved further out. After that, I started breezing through the plot again, which made a world of difference in that book. Also, tonnes of music that fit the theme of your book! That always gets me in the mood to write.

Q7: What is your favourite writing resource?

I’m kind of obsessed with writer books right now, like The Writer’s Guide to Character Emotions or The Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma. They have so many on Amazon, and I plan on collecting more. They give me ideas of different things to use in my writing, along with watching authors on YouTube. That actually helped me a lot in the beginning with Hidden.

Q8: How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

Well, definitely adults since I write smut and some triggering topics. But also people who love a sarcastic, morally grey character. Lots of magic and supernatural creatures. One bed trope, enemies to lovers, found family… People who want a fun twist on the lore of Fae. And who maybe liked Cinderella growing up and wants to see how its ties into the book. (Wink, wink)

Q9: What authors or books inspire you the most?

I feel like I’m inspired by so many authors out here. But being an Indie author and seeing others publishing is just an inspiration to keep going. To keep learning and creating my own stories to share with the world. So, here are some of my friends I admire and love their work so much! Ali Stuebbe, N.J. weeks, C.L. Menegon, and Shay Ruby.

Q10: What are you currently reading?

I’m actually about to start Gothikana by Runyx which I’ve heard amazing things about. So, I can’t wait!

To find out more about Fay Bec check out her website or give her a follow on Instagram @faybecbooks. The second edition of Hidden Beneath the Embers is available now in paperback, ebook and on Kindle Unlimited. From the blurb:

Hide-and-seek was a game Davyna loved playing as a child because she always won. But after the death of her adopted father, the game became her life’s mission to seek a blood relative to set her free from the cursed deal she made.

When every lead turns up empty, Davyna is forced to seek help from the creatures that hide in the dark.

And when her fairytale dream for her life goes up in flames, Davyna finds herself questioning everything she thought she knew as one secret after another is revealed. As darkness surrounds her, she wonders if there is any chance of waking from this nightmare.

With the help of new allies, will she find her way back to the light, or fall deeper into hell?What started as a quest for her freedom quickly turns into a fight for her life as Davyna navigates loss, lust, and love. But more importantly, as she seeks answers to who- or what- she is.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Author Interview - T. M. Ledvina

T.M. Ledvina is an avid reader and writer, and lover of all things fantasy and romance. They live in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband, Ryan. When she isn’t writing, you can find them watching anime, playing Dungeons and Dragons, or playing video games. Of Blood, Bones, and Truth is her first full-length completed novel.

Genre: LGBTQIA+ fantasy

Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what is it about?

Of Blood, Bones, and Truth! An indentured assassin named Kellan is tasked with solving a brutal string of murders in a futuristic city called Spiral City. Along the way, he meets another assassin named Cassian, and over the course of the story they slowly fall for one another. The story focuses on the power and illusion of choices, as well as the weight of guilt, and the shades of goodness and evil.

Q2: How long does it take you to write a book? How long does each stage of the process usually take?

Honestly, it depends. I'm very much a chaotic pantser, so it could be a few months to a few years depending on how focused I am. I have noticed with each book that my process gets more and more refined. Of Blood, Bones and Truth took me almost two years to write, but it's sequel, TPF, took me about 6-7 months to write the first draft.

Q3: What is your favourite type of character to write?

I have the most fun with my MC Kellan, and I think that's mostly because of his complexities. I'm a big fan of characters with snarky exteriors and soft insides - there's something about a squishy character that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Q4: Do you mine your own life for ideas, settings and/or characters? If so, please give an example from your current book release where you have done this.

Oh absolutely! One of the main female characters, Selwyn, is inspired by two of my best friends. She even shares a birthday with my best friend since childhood! I also take a lot of inspiration for settings from travels I've been on. I recently went on a trip to the Florida Everglades and got a ton of inspiration for a setting in book three (no spoilers though!), but this is a frequent occurrence for me. I get inspired by movies and video game settings as well, since they're such a visual medium. A lot of OBBT was inspired by my favorite movies and video games, even if it's just for the vibes.

Q5: What is something you wish you had known earlier on it your writing career?

How to accept my writing style for what it is. I spent so long wondering why I lost interest in a novel idea after trying to plot it out like everyone told me I had to. It wasn't until I finally finished OBBT that I discovered writing with the loosest plot possible works the best for me. If you're struggling writing a book (either with or without it plotted fully) I'd highly recommend looking into the different types of writing styles and what works best for your type!

Q6: What do you do when you find yourself in a bit of a writing rut? Is there any strategy you find works for you to help the words start flowing again?

This might be a controversial answer...but taking a break is what works best for me. If I feel like I'm forcing words, if I'm spending hours in front of my screen but nothing is coming of it, I know it’s time to take a break. I don't just step away from my words though - my breaks usually consist of reading books, playing video games, watching movies, and traveling. Getting outside my own story and taking in things that inspire me always helps me to get the writing bug back and gets me excited to dive back into my stories.

Q7: What is your favourite writing resource?

This is actually a tough question for me, because I tend to rebuke most structure and writing theories. But I actually love watching Brandon Sanderson lectures on YouTube. He's an incredible storyteller, and his lectures contain a lot of fantastic writing advice and techniques that can be applied in a multitude of ways, regardless of your writing style. I highly recommend checking them out if you are an epic fantasy writer or want to learn more about writing in that genre. I watched a lot of his lectures between writing OBBT and its sequel, TPF, and my writing in TPF has become MUCH stronger because of it!

Q8: How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

Someone who wants to read modern fantasy. I personally got bored of medieval fantasy settings and couldn't find anything that was still considered fantasy but had modern technology other than Crescent City. My ideal readers are people who, like me, want more of the style of Crescent City with smoother, less confusing worldbuilding.

Q9: What authors or books inspire you the most?

C.S. Pacat is my hero and #1 inspiration. The Captive Prince trilogy is one of my favorite series of all time and I can't stress enough how much I love the story, emotion, and writing style of Pacat. Their works are vivid and had me completely enraptured. (PLEASE read trigger warnings before reading Captive Prince though, it is VERY dark!)

Q10: What are you currently reading?

At the moment, I'm reading an ARC of The Bear & The Rose by E.K. Larson-Burnett, as well as a short story collection called Soft & Rage by Myka Silber. I absolutely love reading books by fellow indie authors! 

To find out more about T. M. Ledvina check out their website tmledvina.carrd.co

or give them a follow in Instagram @tiamae.books.

Of Blood, Bones, and Truth is available on April 4th, 2023 in ebook, paperback and hardback. Here is a sneaky snippet:

"The enneagram before him glowed a pale gray, the bounding edges of the circle dull in comparison. Minutes passed in silence, but the man did not move. He knew this was a waiting game, a test to see who would break first. He would not yield."

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